Thursday, January 10, 2019

Browns hire Freddie Kitchens

The Cleveland Browns pondered, gave several interviews to candidates both inside and outside the organization, thought even more and then decided that their man might not have been the interim head coach, but was on the staff currently as the Browns hired offensive coordinator Freddie Kitchens to take over for the 2019 season.

The 44-year-old Kitchens coached the second half of the season as the offensive coordinator and seems to have impressed enough people in Berea to retain the job in his audition, even over the actual head coach of those games in Gregg Williams.
Kitchens spent the previous eleven years with Bruce Arians with the Arizona Cardinals as at various times he coached tight ends, running backs and quarterbacks with his time with veteran Carson Palmer coinciding with the three year run of the Cardinals as a title contender (as I wrote yesterday about in our post on Kliff Kingsbury and the Cardinals).
Kitchens will become only the second current head coach in the league to be promoted to their job without a full season as a coordinator (Kansas City's Andy Reid was hired in his first job in Philadelphia from being Brett Favre's quarterback coach in Green Bay).

It appears the main major selling points for Kitchens were the emergence of Baker Mayfield, who threw 19 of his 27 touchdown passes with Kitchens calling the plays after appearing to begin to fall into a funk under Hue Jackson after his initial success and therefore his relationship with Mayfield, who seems to have made a connection with Kitchens, both on the field and off- most recently when Kitchens defended Mayfield over a sideline "celebration" which cost him a fine and Mayfield's actions towards Jackson in the final home game.
The former Alabama quarterback showed promise as a play caller and the Browns will hopefully retain him in calling the plays, although a veteran coordinator is almost an imperative on both sides of the ball, especially with the defense.

The Browns will be looking for an almost entirely new defensive staff after Gregg Williams and many assistants including thankfully special teams coach Amos Jones were released yesterday.
It appears that only two of the 2018 Browns defensive assistants will be with the team next season as defensive backs coach Dwayne Walker was mentioned as being retained and defensive line coach Clyde Simmons was not mentioned as staying but was not on the list of the coaches that were relieved of their duties either.

Gregg Williams was a pleasant surprise as a head coach and I wouldn't have been upset to see him given the full-time position, but much like Freddie Kitchens and frankly many candidates in this year's coaching silly season, I'm not jumping for joy or throwing items around the room either.
This was not a great year to hire a proven coach as the only one available ( Bruce Arians counts, but the Browns clearly weren't interested) was Mike McCarthy and I was definitely not excited about hiring McCarthy.

I can also understand and agree with the decision to allow Williams to pursue other opportunities.
Williams defense was second in forced turnovers last season, but finished 24 against the run and 29th against the pass and combined with the only natural issues that would come up with Williams suddenly being the subordinate to Kitchens, it was best for everyone that the parting of the ways took place.

On the overall, I'm fine with the hiring of Freddie Kitchens.
Is it risky? Sure, but as noted only Mike McCarthy and maybe Adam Gase were candidates with an experienced background that would be considered more than a retread, so it's not like they passed up a terrific proven winner.
The Browns are like several other teams that are trying something different and not all of these coaches are going to hit it big.
Some will succeed, others won't and that's part of the business.
Now, we move to hiring coordinators and then the really fun part- improving this roster and seeing if the seemingly open window in thr AFC North can be leaped through...

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